Dave Cathey has a good story on downtown’s vibrant restaurant scene – and surprise, surprise, there are plenty of options outside of Bricktown (nothing against Bricktown, of course).
At first I was feeling a bit guilty about my sporadic blogging this week. But then I saw the lively discussion underway on my last post about Core to Shore and realized, “hey, these folks do just fine without me. Uh-oh…”
Nope, not feeling guilty. But that odd quirk of mine, which someone described as “an odd obsession with staying employed” kicked in.
So OK, I’m back.
Truth is I tackled more than I could chew with Millenium Park. So let’s just summarize it by saying it’s an incredibly ambitious mix of entertainment venues, public art and community space. It’s amazing, and it speaks volumes that this is what is in Mayor Mick Cornett’s head as he talks about the potential for a new city center park in Core to Shore.
Today I got a last minute invite to a discussion of the future for Film Row. It’s amazing how far this area has come in just a couple of years. What was an area dominated by misfit property owners has matured into an enthusiastic alliance of property owners who have all come to appreciate that this could very well be downtown’s next hot spot.
Not hurting their momentum, I’m sure, is a streetscape about to start this summer and the proximity of the new Devon tower.
Oh, by the way, I was visiting with folks at Devon today. I could name drop,but I won’t. But I see nothing indicating this project is slowing down at all. It’s still happening.
I know a lot more than I did yesterday. I’ll do my best to share as much of it with you as soon as possible.
One final, unrelated note: “Major snow storm this weekend.” Really? Really?
That’s the question being asked in some quarters. If one listens to Mayor Mick Cornett, it seems that there is more being discussed with a potential MAPS 3 for projects along the river and in Core to Shore than in downtown itself. And certainly the city is already pouring millions into the area to buy up key properties.
But is this a misplaced priority? Some say Core to Shore development is decades away and that downtown isn’t close to being completely revived with office vacancy still at 23 percent (and about to rise due to the economy) and troubled landmarks like First National still out there. The city has gotten a lot of payoff from MAPS investments downtown. But will it get the same payoff from the river and Core to Shore?
And here’s a delicate question that is quite politically incorrect: who, exactly, stands to benefit from the city’s Core to Shore investments?
Anonymous comment posters, the floor is your’s…
“How do you make everyone – not just the people in the seats, but the people sitting 400 feet away on the lawn – feel good about coming to this place to listen to music? And the answer is, you bring them into it. You make the proscenium larger; you build a trellis with a distributed sound system. You make people feel part of the experience.”
Sometimes one can get too ambitious with a blog. I fear I did just that this past week. No, I’m pretty happy with the Planning for the Future series. It’s Millennium Park that has me shaken.
How does one begin to explain Millennium Park and how it relates to Oklahoma City’s future?
Let’s start with bits and pieces, beginning with the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I don’t know who Jay was or is, but the pavilion is incredible.
Internationally renown architect Frank Gehry designed a pavilion that stands 120-feet high, with a billowing headdress of brushed stainless steel ribbons that frame the stage opening and connect to an overhead trellis of crisscrossing steel pipes. The trellis supports the sound system, which spans the 4,000 fixed seats and the Great Lawn, which accommodates an additional 7,000 people.
This state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the country, was designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall by distributing enhanced sound equally over both the fixed seats and the lawn.
The land being assembled by the city in Core to Shore could conceivable include an amphitheater of its own. Maybe the venue will overlook the river – something envisioned since the grand plan for the Oklahoma River was drawn up as part of the Metropolitan Area Projects.
But what would this venue ultimately become? Would it supplant the beloved (yet much smaller) zoo amphitheater? Or would we see this venue give birth to an entirely new calendar of events we don’t see currently? Could we see the Oklahoma City Philharmonic brought to the masses on a regular basis? Could this amphitheater become home to a weekly farmer’s market/swap meet? Carnivals? How could a venue like this bring together northside, southside, eastside and westside?
When Mayor Mick Cornett mentions a venue like Millennium Park as an inspiration for what’s ahead, it’s difficult to believe the Pritzker Pavilion isn’t part of that dream.
Sometimes you’ve got to wonder about the folks posting comments on stories at NewsOk. On today’s story about Jeff Speck’s recommendations to make downtown more walkable we see the following comment:
The streets were designed before MAPS destroyed Downtown and caused a mass exodus to the suburbs. It seems our ‘improvements’ always result in a need for more ‘improvement’. Perhaps research into the domino effect of these changes would result in better and more far reaching plans requiring less remedial action.
Arlie, Midwest City – Mar 20, 2009 at 10:38 AM
So how ambitious is Mayor Mick?
When it comes to Core to Shore, he might have let a hint or two slip about what he envisions when it comes to a new “central park” that is to be the area’s main attraction.
Speaking at a recent OKC Rotary luncheon, Cornett mentioned just one park as an example of what was on his mind: Chicago’s Millennium Park.
(At this point those of you who are familiar with Chicago surely just let out a big gasp).
Millennium Park isn’t that old. Construction began in 1998 and it opened in July, 2004. It’s really something to behold, especially considering it qualifies as the world’s largest rooftop garden.
It didn’t come cheap – budget overruns brought the pricetag to just under $500 million. But it’s having a substantial impact on Chicago, the city’s quality of life and image.
This park is so big I’ll need three or four posts just to lay it all out. Consider this the intro. I’ll be back later today with more.
So, before I get into the next big thing, let’s see if you guys can guess which great city park is on the mind of Mayor Mick Cornett (David Holt and Cornett family members are not allowed to respond).
That means I’ll be off the blog Tuesday. In the meantime, let me put in a plug, rather selfishly, for a private non-commercial website that I run with Jack Money, www.okchistory.com. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it of late, posting vintage commercials, history book reviews, old photos and images, and plain fun with the city’s past. I’ll be back Wednesday with a post hiting at what might be next for downtown and Core to Shore.
Kris Bryant asked the key question Sunday as I finished up the Planning for the Future series (actually, it’s not quite over…
How is there any relationship between the lengthy discussions we’ve had on urban development with the introduction of New Urbanism?
For me, the tie is quite simple. New Urbanism reintroduces the idea of density and community in the suburbs. Remember, when we started this series, we saw how everyone was being taught that density was bad, that indeed, community was bad.
Reverse that thinking in the suburbs, re-introduce mixed-use development, walkable neighborhoods and eliminate rows and rows of identical Dallas-style homes with driveways in each front yard and maybe, just maybe, the concept of living in an urban environment won’t be so foreign to upcoming generations.
Sure, there are a lot of other issues to consider here. And yes, I’m simplifying it all qutie a bit with this post. But is that so bad?
Not everybody is trashing OKC’s hosting of the Big 12 this week:
(read entire blog here)
Thoughts before leaving the OKC corrals
by Tom Kensler on March 13, 2009
Some thoughts before departing from the 2009 men’s and women’s Big 12 basketball tournaments in Oklahoma City:
The conference is blessed to have two outstanding options for the league tournaments. College basketball, of both genders, matters in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. Welcome signs adorn the storefronts of businesses. Hotels made up special Big 12 “Do not disturb” signs to hang from doorknobs. School pennants and conference banners are displayed everywhere.
And talk about convenience … the two arenas in Oklahoma City are across the street from each other and the restaurant-and-entertainment district, Bricktown (similar to Denver’s LoDo), is just two blocks away.
The 2010 and 2011 Big 12 tournaments will be played in Kansas City. Once again, the conference will hold its spring meetings at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in May. If the league’s presidents/chancellors have any sense, they should award the 2012 tournaments to Oklahoma City and then rotate the championships between the two cities.
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